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Already far higher than the national average, gas prices in SF hit new record

High gas prices at Shell on Bryant and 4th Streets on March 7, 2022. | Camille Cohen

Regular gas hit an average of $5.50 per gallon in the city today, the highest price ever recorded by the American Automobile Association.

“Will $40 get me the hell out of town?” driver Sena Kimbrell wondered, putting barely six gallons in the tank of her car at a Shell station on Bryant Street in SoMa where the price was a sky-high $6.31 per gallon. While traveling across California to visit friends, the former SF resident, now living in Arizona, has been sleeping in her van most nights to save money for gas. “It’s frustrating, basically. Gas is going up every time I stop.” 

Sena Kimbrell, an Arizona resident, fills up just enough gas to get out of the city, on March 7, 2022. | Camille Cohen

Geopolitics certainly plays a role in this state of affairs. Crude oil briefly topped $130 a barrel in overnight trading due to the ban on Russian exports. The gain pushed the national average to $4.08 per gallon yesterday—the highest price since 2008, according to AAA. 

But most San Franciscans would drive away from a parking spot outside their front door to pay that price, given prices around the city are always among the highest in the nation. A look at Gas Buddy, an app that shows real-time pump prices around the country, shows most stations in SF charging around $5.39 to $5.69 per gallon.

California’s gas prices are consistently higher than the rest of the country’s because only a limited number of suppliers produce fuel that meets the state’s tough emissions standards—and state and local taxes are added to the total. Gas in Marin and Napa counties today also topped the $5.50 mark.

But today’s nearly-$6-a-gallon price is giving even jaded San Francisco drivers pause. Budget-conscious drivers already know that the ARCO on Fell and Divisadero streets still typically sells the cheapest gas in the city, with a gallon of regular costing a mere $4.97, according to Gas Buddy. 

The next cheapest spots? Gas Buddy lists the ARCO on Mission and 14th streets ($4.99/gallon), the ARCO on Carroll Avenue and Thornton Street ($5.03), and the Valero on 19th Avenue and Judah Street ($5.09).

The most expensive station in SF? It’s that Shell station on Bryant, where the $6.31-per-gallon price is especially painful given the company has come under fire for purchasing Russian crude

“The prices are higher here than most stations in San Francisco because it’s in a unique location,” driver Franklin Roosevelt explained while gassing up. Indeed, it’s near the last off-ramp from Interstate 80 before drivers cross the Bay Bridge. “There’s nothing else around here and it’s close to the freeway.”